Defensive Pressure in Crunch Time Lifts SVSU over Hillsdale, 48-41

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - The Saginaw Valley State University men's basketball team defeated Hillsdale College today (Jan. 5) by a final score of 48-41. The victory vaults SVSU to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the GLIAC, while Hillsdale drops to 8-4 on the year and 4-4 in the conference.

The Cardinals and Chargers were locked up in a physical back-and-forth battle for much of the first half as both teams forced the other into creating multiple turnovers.

Saginaw Valley regained the lead at 15-14 for the first time since the first five minutes of action as Sterling Johnson (Detroit, Mich. / De La Salle HS) drove through the lane for a layup with 4:23 to go in the half.

A successful Brett Beland (Menominee, Mich.) three-pointer off a pass from Kellen Smith (Covington, Kentucky / Scott HS) with 48 seconds left in the half gave Saginaw Valley the 18-16 halftime edge over Hillsdale. Beland was responsible for 11 of SVSU's 18 first half points.

The 16 first half points allowed by SVSU was a season-best as the lead changed hands eight times in the first twenty minutes of action.

The second half opened with each team exchanging buckets before a three-point jumper by Mike Schaaf (Saginaw, Mich. / Arthur Hill HS) put the Cardinals up 21-20 with 17:43 left to play.

The Chargers then went on a 9-2 run before SVSU tied the game yet again at 31-31 on a pair of free throws by Brett Beland with 12:01 remaining in the contest.

After falling behind during the next ten minutes, the Cardinals cut the lead to one (41-40) as Brett Beland stole the Hillsdale inbounds pass and cashed it in for an easy two with 3:32 to play.

SVSU took the 42-41 lead with one minute to go as Mike Schaaf took control in the paint against three Charger defenders for the go-ahead bucket.

Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch from Chris Webb (Saginaw, Mich. / Arthur Hill HS) and Brett Beland along with stifling defensive pressure enabled the Cardinals to come away with the much-deserved 48-41 victory.

The SVSU defense held Hillsdale scoreless during the final 6:27 of action as the Cardinals ended the game on a 10-0 run, including 6-for-6 from the line in the final 33 seconds. The Cardinals' defensive pressure led to a number of Charger misses with red-shirt freshman guard Kellen Smith snatching a team-high seven rebounds.

Saginaw Valley was paced by "Meijer Player of the Game" Brett Beland who recorded a season-high 21 points to go with two assists. The Cardinals defense forced Hillsdale into 15 turnovers and held the Chargers to a season-low 41 points for the game.

The victory for SVSU snapped a 10-game losing skid against the Chargers dating back with the last victory coming on Dec. 20, 2005.

The Cardinals will return to action next Thursday (Jan. 10) when they play host to Lake Superior State. Tip is scheduled for 6:00 PM.